Give Your Pantry a Second Chance: Redefining the Way You Cook While in Quarantine (Part II)

Why we can continue to show up for ourselves and others through the way we cook, even amidst the uncertainty. 

 minute read

Redefining the Way You Cook While in Quarantine is a two-part series in conversation with Brainfood that explores how now more than ever, these times present us with an opportunity to redefine our relationship with food – and to reclaim the practice of cooking for ourselves as the highest form of self-care. By diving into our oft-overlooked pantry, it’s possible that more often than not, the very ingredients (and recipes) we need to feel nourished are already on hand. 

This is Part II – read Part I here

4. Comfort Food, but Different

Moments of stress in today’s climate can really heighten the society-wide sentiment of needing to comfort ourselves. And you know what? There’s nothing inherently wrong with finding food that does just that. But it’s also about finding what makes you feel the best, while also comforting you. Momentary relief through binge-eating or overdoing comfort food can lead to longer term discomfort. So the key is figuring out: how can we break that feedback loop?

First off, be kind to yourself. We must begin from a space of awareness. A space where we can bear witness to our own internal dialogue. We tap into the awareness of why we're indulging in stress-eating, so that we can start to shift the programming in the mind. We can question why we’re reaching for something and can we satiate this in another way? Maybe it’s a slightly healthier recipe, a practice of self-massage, bath, or a 10-minute guided meditation something that can shift our initial programming and provide new ways to comfort ourselves.

Mindfulness is key in this process. It allows us to observe when our mind might say “Hey, I’m feeling sad right now, so I’m going to go get my Cup Noodles, chips, candy, what have you and go sit on the couch and eat it.” In that moment, we can recognize that sadness or stress is actually driving the craving not hunger which allows us to approach the craving in a slightly different way. It gives us the opportunity to pause and choose a similarly satisfying but more nourishing recipe or snack. 

Vegan & GF Mac & Cheese

Canned Corn, Black Beans, Diced Tomatoes

Canned Veggie Chili

Box of Gluten Free Macaroni Pasta 

Olive Oil 

Spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, cayenne)

Veggie Stock or Bouillon 

Coconut Milk 


Nutritional Yeast

Cilantro, Peppers, Carrots & Zucchini*

5. Let Go of (most) of the Rules & Where Possible, Find Play

Things feel heavy right now, and it’s okay to feel the weight of it. But when you can, try to give yourself a break. Find some playfulness in daily life through small things that bring you joy. So much about eating is about the significance of sharing a meal together. And even though we can’t all share a meal in real life, there’s nothing stopping us from virtual dinner parties. Reach out to friends for a digital dinner – get dressed up and dial in with a meal of your choice and a glass of wine, or festive drink of choice. We’re all making this up as we go along, and it’s not easy. But for now, many of us have the opportunity to adapt, loved ones, the gift of technology, and the privilege of access to food (to donate to increase food access for all, please consider donating to Feeding America or Food Banks Canada).

We are being asked to redefine everything about what life looks like right now. Productivity, work, relationships and well-being. But beyond self distancing, much of what will unfold over the next few weeks or months will be largely out of our control. And that’s not an easy feeling to sit with. But even while resources and accessibility shift during these times, we will always have a role to play in how we take care of ourselves. Amidst the wild uncertainty, we can continue to show up for ourselves and others through the way we cook – and there is always solace to be found in that simple truth. 


Photography by Ashley Klassen.

Read Part I of this series here.

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